A BP-led project to build an advanced power plant equipped with carbon capture and storage (CCS) in California, USA, has been awarded $308 million of funding by the US government.

The proposed 250 MW integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant has been selected by the US Department of Energy (DOE) for funding from the USA’s economic stimulus package. The DOE has also awarded $100 million to a clean coal project in North Dakota led by Basin Electric.

Hydrogen Energy International – a joint venture between BP Alternative Energy and Rio Tinto Hydrogen – says that it is aiming to make a final investment decision on the Kern County IGCC in late 2010 or early 2011. The project, which would capture and permanently store 90 per cent of its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, could be operational by late 2015.

The funding award is part of the third round of the DOE’s Clean Coal Power Initiative, which supports investment in advanced coal fired power generation technologies. It has been welcomed by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE).

“Today’s announcement underscores the Obama Administration’s commitment to work with the private sector to in bringing the next generation of advanced clean coal technologies to capture and store CO2 to the marketplace,” said ACCCE President and CEO Steve Miller.

“We are hopeful that these project announcements will be two of many important steps taken by DOE, industry and academia to bring the next generation of clean coal technologies for carbon capture and storage to the market place, in both a cost-effective and timely fashion,” continued Miller. “These efforts will also allow the United States to play an expanded international leadership role in addressing concerns about climate change.”

The $100 million award to Basin Electric and its partners, PowerSpan and Burns & McDonnell, will support their project to demonstrate the removal of CO2 from the flue gas of a lignite-based boiler by adding CCS to Basin Electric’s existing Antelope Valley station near Beulah, North Dakota.

Powerspan’s ECO2 ammonia-based technology will be used to capture CO2 on a 120 MW electric-equivalent gas stream from the 450 MW Antelope Valley Station Unit 1. The net result will be 90 per cent removal of CO2 from the treated flue gas, yielding 1 000 000 tons per year of pipeline-quality CO2.

The ammonia based SO2 scrubbing system will also produce a liquid stream of ammonium sulphate that will be processed into a fertilizer by-product.

“[This] announcement represents a major step forward in the fight to reduce CO2 emissions from coal-based power plants. These new technologies will not only help fight climate change, they will also create new jobs and position the United States as a leader in carbon capture and storage technologies for many years,” said US Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

“[The] announcement is an important step for the Hydrogen Energy California (HECA) project and also demonstrates the importance and viability of the project in meeting the dual challenges of global climate change mitigation and increased state and national demand for energy security,” said Jonathan Briggs, regional director of the Americas at Hydrogen Energy International. “And, importantly, these critical federal funds flowing from the President’s economic stimulus package will have a positive impact for California and the local Kern County area.”

The HECA project will use petroleum coke, coal, or blends of each, combined with non-potable water and convert them into hydrogen and CO2. The hydrogen gas will be used to fuel a net 250 MW power station, and the CO2 will be transported by pipeline to nearby oil reservoirs and injected for storage with the additional benefit of enhanced oil recovery (EOR).